Financial success is a worthy goal, and it is also a long-term goal. Trying to make the most money possible in the short term and going from one high-paying job to another high-paying job does not lead to the same level of financial gain that can be achieved from building a solid foundation and building on that foundation.

I have encountered too many people who go through their professional career looking for short-term financial gain, even pretending to have skill sets that they don’t really have just to make more money. They believe they can learn the skills on the job and that no one will ever find out they were not qualified for a position. In addition to cheating the company, they are cheating themselves. A solid foundation cannot be built based on a skill set that does not exist. It will catch up to them, and they will be held accountable. Will they be ready?

Most of us know someone who “killed it” as a mortgage broker or real estate sales person in the late 90’s or early 2000’s. Many people know someone that got rich off their stock options from the high growth company that hit it big on the market. How many of these folks are “killing it” now? What skill set did they possess to maintain their income for decades to come? Do they possess the skills to do it again? Or were they just in the right place at the right time? These types of people have contacted me for career advice and help finding another $200,000-a-year job when I know they don’t have the skill set to be successful in that type of position.

Your career should be viewed with a much more holistic perspective. Start with a longterm goal. Where do you want to be? Then determine what skill sets you need to get there. Here is the downside: do this at the expense of short-term money. This is an investment in you as a person and training that is much greater than any school or book. It rounds you out as an individual and it exposes you to things that work and things that don’t. You learn to recognize bosses that you know have the respect of others versus ones that do not.   Become a human working sponge and, as time goes by, you will be shocked as you develop your own style and bring your own unique talents to the work place.

A person that spends years and years in building their skill set and leveraging it into a career or a business when they know they are ready will have a greater chance to achieve life long income generating status. No one disagrees that the great buildings of this world all have a rock solid foundation. The better the foundation, the larger the building will be and the longer it will last. Your skill set is your foundation. It provides the tools you need and the experiences to draw on as you manage, lead, motivate and innovate. To be a great accountant, you must have exposure across multiple companies at multiple levels in the accounting function.  To be a great CFO, you need all of that plus experience in different functions like operations, technology and more.

Never stop building your skill set. Always read to augment your work place training and experience.  Always take on different projects and task forces that allow you to learn other functions of the work place.  Once you understand ‘how to learn’ how other people do their jobs and the importance of personal motivation, you will be able to achieve true greatness.

Establishing a rock-solid foundation and committing to lifelong skill-set building will put you in the best place for long-lasting growth and financial stability.   Fight really hard against falling in love with the next shiny thing. Shiny eventually fades, but a foundation is forever.